Legislation would require landlords to provide proof of employee background checks

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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
December 22, 2017

Cropped Photo: Payton Chung / CC BY-SA 2.0

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Landlords could soon be required to provide residents with proof they have conducted background checks on people working in apartment complexes. Failure to provide notices would give people the right to cancel their lease.

Part time student Mary Beasley has been renting her apartment for almost a year. She says at times, she isn’t comfortable with the maintenance staff.

"And it scares me. A lot of the times when I come home, I’m getting stares from these men who are working all around," Mary says. "I’ve never even seen them before. I know nothing about them.”

Under proposed legislation known as the 'Tenant Notification Act,' renters like Mary would have to be told, in writing, whether or not the landlord has run background checks on anyone with access to the premises. State Senator Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) is the sponsor.

"If there is people working in these large complexes, and they’re not background checks on whether they are sex offenders or not, and they have access to people’s homes, to me that’s a problem," says Sen. Steube.

Landlord Erwin Jackson, who rents more than 250 apartments, already runs background checks, but bristles at the idea of being forced to run them or notify tenants.

"And see no reason I should take that information and provide it to my tenants. I think there is a privacy there," Jackson says.

If this idea becomes law and you’ve already signed a lease, then find out there’s no background check, you’ll be entitled to cancel that lease and get your full deposit back.

Mary likes that just fine.

"I think that it’s after moving in that you start, you know, seeing everything, maybe all the bad people around," Mary says.

Some details of the proposal are still being worked out, including how many units are in a complex before a background check notice would apply.

The level one background checks called for in the legislation cost $24 per person.

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